SPOKANE — What a tough way to go out.
No. 4 Neah Bay fell 55-53 to No. 7 Curlew on a buzzer-beating putback basket inside to bow out of the Class 1B Girls Basketball State Tournament on Friday afternoon at Spokane Arena.
The Red Devils, plagued with foul trouble for the entire contest, had just tied the contest up at 53-all on a Cei’J Gagnon 3-point basket from the left wing with 12.6 seconds to play.
With no timeouts, Curlew dribbled up the floor and got two looks at the game winner, a short jump shot and a follow-up inside that also missed before the Cougars’ Korin Baker grabbed her game-high 14th rebound of the contest and sank the winning bucket as time expired.
The win moved Curlew on to the fourth/sixth-place game Saturday morning, while the Red Devils’ season ended with an 18-7 overall record.
Neah Bay played the majority of the contest with one hand tied behind its back due to foul trouble.
Laila Greene and backcourt partner Allie Greene each picked up three fouls before the end of the first quarter.
Post Oceanna Aguirre also dealt with foul trouble for much of the game — an issue against a Curlew team with a roster featuring two 6-foot-plus players and another 5-10 forward.
Baker, a 6-foot-1 senior, took advantage of the freedom to move inside and the Cougars outrebounded Neah Bay 46-33 overall and 20-10 on the offensive glass.
Curlew took the lead at 41-38 on an old-fashioned three-point play by Baker that fouled Laila Greene out of the game with 6:16 to play.
Allie Greene and Aguirre soon followed and with Curlew in the bonus, the Cougars were able to exploit their height advantage inside.
Neah Bay stayed close, however, getting big scores from Ruth Moss and Ryana Moss.
Ruth Moss led Neah Bay with 19 points. Ryana Moss led the Red Devils in rebounds with nine and added four points.
Gagnon and Allie Greene added eight points apiece for Neah Bay and Aguirre had six points, all from the free-throw line.
It was the final contest for seniors Gagnon and reserve Mia Lovik.
Neah Bay should return the full complement of its roster and former North Olympic League MVP Courtney Swan should return after missing the entire 2019-20 season with a torn ACL.
No. 7 Curlew 55, No. 4 Neah Bay 53
Neah Bay 13 13 9 18— 53
Curlew 12 12 9 22— 55
Neah Bay (53) — Ru. Moss 19, Gagnon 8, A. Greene 8, Aguirre 6, Ray 5, Ry. Moss 4.
Curlew (55) — K. Baker 20, LaDue 10, E. Baker 8, McIrvin 5, Kjolseth 4, Singer 4, Beedle 4.
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or at [email protected]